Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Write to the Lords

With less than a week until the Lords begins to debate same-sex marriage, I used to write to a random Lord. I got given Lord Kalms, and here is the email I sent him.

Dear Lord Kalms,
Life is sometimes difficult. This is true for everyone, whether Lord or
student, like you and I, or lover of Disney cartoons, secret collector
of bookmarks, or simply obsessed with stationary. Okay, that's also
like me too. But others will have those things in common with me, as
well as other aspects of my character.

Some people are like me because they have brown hair, or white skin,
they want to own a horse, or find it difficult to remember to brush
their teeth. Whether we are similar or distant, life is difficult for
everyone else sometimes, and life is difficult for me sometimes.

Enough beating around the bush, I want you to help pass the same-sex
marriage bill that's going to go through the House of Lords soon. My
life is made difficult by the inequality my country's law forces upon

I'm a bisexual woman. You've met many us I'm sure, whether you knew at
the time or not. Some of us have brown hair, and some of us will sing
along to the Lion King with a little too much gay abandon (if you
pardon my choice of words). And many of us want to get married. 

I'm a twenty-one year old woman; of course I've thought about getting
married. I want to be a wife, to live one life with the person I love
and who loves me, to make the lives of the people in our life better,
together, and to set an example of truth, faith, hope, loyalty, honour,
and good, to those younger than us.

I have the potential to fall in love with men and women. The one person
I end up spending my life with could be either; where ever they may be
(I'm still searching!). But I will only be able to marry them if
they're a man. Society would not see my civil partnership with a woman
the same way they would see my marriage to a man, even though that
marriage would be all that I have already described, regardless of the
gender of the person with whom I happened to meet, fall in love, and to
whom I want to commit my life. I don't want that lower status.

Pain and suffering. That's what this inequality causes, to bisexuals
like me, gay people with brown hair, trans* people who collect
bookmarks, and a great many others within our society, within our
country, within our sixty-two million strong family.

Our family needs your help. Make their lives a little less difficult.
Think of me and my poor dental hygiene, and help pass the bill.

Yours sincerely

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Will being bisexual affect my career?

This post is inspired by my last few weeks considering my third year (next year). It will be my last year of my vocational honours degree, and so comes with a few extra things on the to do list. A work placement, a 2500 words self-evaluation essay, and working on the college's in house productions as stage manager/deputy stage manager/costume supervisor/production electrician are three of the four necessary elements I need to pass to graduate.

The fourth is a a graduation project. There are three options - production portfolio, creative project, or research project. The creative project is for students to put together a show or piece that indicates their skills eg a light show, a gig, a soundscape, a piece of furniture, a model, a six foot butterfly that flaps its wings whilst the lights in the wings change colour, a tutu, or a replica of a costume from Cats (all of which had been done). This is not for me; I am creative but not artistic, and whilst the only thing I can creative is stories, writing a piece of prose will sadly not be an acceptable submission.

The production portfolio is often the choice for stage/costume management students, though techies who thrive at production management will sometimes do it as well. The idea is to work on one of your allocated productions as normal, but at the end of it, produce a folder that details every element and step in the production process for your department, with all the paperwork and accompanying explanation, to such a high standard that an entirely new team in that department on a revival of the show could produce exactly the same result. This is also not for me because, let's be honest, that sounds incredibly dull!

So what? you cry. Get the bisexuality! All will be well friends, I am getting there.

I wanted to explain the situation that leads this bisexual stage management student, whose degree has almost no similarities to traditional academic subjects, to writing an essay. My option is to do a research project, which is parading around as a dissertation, but is only allocated 6 weeks for a 6000 word document, rather than the longer amounts of time dedicated to true dissertations, which much larger word counts.

When this was all laid out before me, and I came to the conclusion that research it must be, and I started thinking about what the f*** I was going to research, I resolved to find something that did not bore me to tears. This proved to be difficult, because the only caveat for this option is that the subject must be related to your studies and career. Good grief, I thought, what on earth could I research about stage management? Previous projects from techies had been on the surge is use of LEDs, and the affect on pre-recording on sound in live entertainment. Kill me now. Effective lighting cue notation? The gender divide? Where to buy the best stationary? Backstage footwear? I couldn't bear the thought.

What were my interests? How could I wrangle the criteria to suit my need to do something exciting? I remembered a similar situation back when I was 17, and found I didn't want to take up another subject when I dropped Drama at A2. But I had to take up something for my Upper 6th year, and the only viable option seemed the Extended Project (essentially a practice in research for uni). I had free rein over that choice of subject, so I took the opportunity to look into something that bothered me about Christianity that my RS lessons hadn't covered. Homosexuality. Just why on earth did so many Christians think their faith did not marry up with acceptance of homosexuality? I wanted to know their reasoning, and see if my personal thoughts on the matter held in the face of their claims. Using my love of RS and the personal effect on my faith and sexuality, I devised a research project. In that case I was lucky enough that I didn't even have to write the 5000 word essay. I could write 2000 words and do an 'artefact' instead. What was my artefact? A story, of a young woman coming to terms with her faith and her sexuality. Prose was at option at that point.

So, what could I learn from this experience? I needed to feel personally involved in the subject, and feel like it was a worthwhile line of inquiry. And I came to the answer; not my sexuality and my faith, but my sexuality and my career - LGBT theatre technicians. Are there lots? Are they out? Do they feel comfortable at work? Are their colleagues positive or negative about their orientation? Does it affect their employability? Is there support available?

I realised when brainstorming the idea that whilst I was kind of interested in the situation at large, I really just wanted an answer to the title of this blog. Will being bisexual affect my career? Am I right to assume that I am going into an industry that is a refuge from the troubles of the wider working world? Or will being an out bisexual cause problems? Will I have to fight for equality in opportunity and treatment by others? Will I find solidarity, or will I be a lone voice?

I worry. I worry because I am open and unapologetic. And as much as in my last post I reported that this quality is something others admire, I can't help thinking that I'm doing myself a disservice and making things harder for myself when it would be easier to keep quiet. Making things harder for my career seems a shot in the foot - I'm sure my parents would think so - so I want to find out if it will be harder, if it will mean fighting, because I know I will do it. I know I will carry on being open and unapologetic. This project is my recon mission, my scouting ahead, looking into the industry with an eye on whether it meets my standards. Because I don't want to give up on the career that I know I'll be good at, that I will enjoy, that I've dedicated much time and many resources toward gaining; I don't want to give up that career just because the industry is against me.

But I will save myself the suffering if I find that is the case. I could hope that I would be strong to deal with the problems and negative experiences, but really, I don't know if I'm that brave. A part of my is shouting out that someone needs to be brave, someone needs to barge into any industry that harbours LGBT suffering and fight for success, visibility, and change. But am I that person?

I may not need to be. I may find that being in backstage theatre is a great environment to work for an out LGBT technician. All I can do is go out and see.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Jessie J the bisexual

"I've never denied it. They say how my sexuality isn’t “exclusive”, but I’ve never hidden it – even in the early days. I’m not afraid to say I’m very comfortable with who I am and I love who I love.’ Whoopie doo guys, yes, I've dated girls and I've dated boys – get over it. It’s the person, not the genitals. The frustrating thing is that if I was with a guy right now, I’d be [considered] straight. But if I was with a girl, I’d be “gay.” When I was with my ex-girlfriend, I used to take her around and say, “This is my girlfriend.” People would be comfortable with it because I was. That’s what annoys me about the media. The bisexual label irritates me. They'd never write 'Adele – the straight singer', but that's how the world works. I don’t drink or smoke, so this is what people like to talk about. I’ve never tried to make [my sexuality] something that’s going to put me in newspapers or magazines. I’m never, ever going to let it be something that sells my music. Sexuality shouldn’t define you. It should be part of who you are."
- Jesse J.

For me, she and Anna Paquin are my favourite popular culture bisexual role models. They have different stories - Jesse never came out to the public as such, she just was, whereas Paquin did a public announcement in support of an LGBT equality campaign - but there's something about their breeziness about their sexuality, and their candour, that I really like.

By not making a big deal, by getting exasperated at the media's obsession with it, by being entirely honest and unapologetic about who they, by being successful as themselves, and by claiming the right in their public presence to be a full member of society as a whole, rather than sticking with being only a queer public presence, they are what pop culture needs, what we need in pop culture, to elbow our way to normalising bisexuality.

They are my role models, and I was honoured enough to be told today that I'm like a role model to a woman thirty years older than me, for exactly the same reasons - how casual, unapologetic, comfortable, and open I am about who I am and who I fall in love with. But I can't take all the credit - it would be harder if I wasn't encouraged by the examples of those bisexual celebrities who are not exactly Out & Proud bisexuals, but Out & So What? bisexuals. More please, popular culture.